A network of informal workers yesterday petitioned the National Human Rights Commission to take legal action against the Finance Ministry for failing to launch the National Saving Fund.
Sujin Rungsawang, the network coordinator, said the failure to enforce the National Savings Fund Act violated Section 84 of the charter, which requires the government to help workers with their retirement savings.
She said the ministry's tardiness in starting the fund has affected 30 million informal workers who are not eligible to be members of a provident fund or the Social Security Fund.
The act, passed during the Democrat-led administration in 2011, has been in effect since May 2011, but the government has not yet set up the pension fund.
The Finance Ministry is reportedly seeking an amendment to the law to alter some of the fund's regulations including whether members can choose to receive a regular pension or a lump sum upon retirement.
"We want the government to set up the fund immediately. The amendment process takes time so it should wait until after the fund is up and running," she said.
The petition was accepted by commissioner Prinya Sirisakarn.
Worawet Suwanrada, an economist from Chulalongkorn University, said the planned amendment should not be used to delay the operation of the fund.
"Improving the law is the proper thing to do but it is not a reason to delay enforcement of the act. The purpose of the law should be realised," he said.
The Finance Ministry's Fiscal Policy Office website says arrangements are being made for membership registration and member contributions.
Bundit Thanachaisetthawut, of the Arom Pongpangan Foundation, said membership registration is long overdue. It was supposed to begin last May.
"The ministry has never explained why the saving fund has been delayed and how long we will have to wait," he said.
"No matter what the reason is, it has an obligation to enforce the act which is designed for the benefit of tens of millions of people."